Twin Peaks Review by John Keegan

Twin Peaks 3.17/3.18: The Return: Part XVII/XVIII

Twin Peaks 3.17/3.18: The Return: Part XVII/XVIII

Written By:
Mark Frost and David Lynch
Directed By:
David Lynch

The final two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, very likely the final statement on the entire saga, is a study in contrasts.  On the one hand, there is a relatively complete end to the third season crisis of Dark Cooper and the overall threat of Killer Bob, which is full of just about everything the audience anticipated.  On the other hand, we have a final hour that essentially takes everything that has ever happened in Twin Peaks and scrambles it completely.



Not everything gets a tidy answer; in fact, it would have been shocking if that had been the case.  We don’t know precisely what the situation with Audrey was all about, except that there is a tantalizing reference to her scenes during Cooper’s conversation with The Arm.  And that conversation within the Black Lodge strongly suggests that everything that has ever happened has been “a dream”, or perhaps more precisely, realities generated by consciousnesses beyond strict human rules or even understanding.


This connects thematically with the role of dreams and visions within the series as a whole, most especially the means by which The Fireman communicates “instructions”.  It’s as ephemeral and elusive as the notion that a soul like Laura Palmer’s could be considered “pure”, when her role within the story was hardly innocent.  But isn’t that exactly the kind of material that David Lynch is best known for?



And so the penultimate episode is the more logical series of events, the resolution that we have largely been expecting, predicting, or anticipating.  Team Blue Rose, as it turns out, has been playing a very long game: trying to track down and defeat “Judy”, aka The Mother, the creator of Killer BOB.  Cooper has been at the center of this long game, incorporating on some level each and every event of the saga.  It’s sold particularly well, and does a fair job of glossing over the apparent inconsistencies over time, but it also points strongly to how things are going to pan out before the final curtain call.


After all, Cooper didn’t know the full measure of the truth about Twin Peaks or Killer BOB when he began investigating the murder of Laura Palmer, even if the fact that he was assigned to the case links directly to Team Blue Rose, as seen in Fire Walk With Me.   No matter how insightful, how aware, how tuned into the spiritual or mystical Cooper and the others might be, they are still limited by the constraints of human consciousness.  They are tools in the larger struggle between The Fireman and The Mother and all the denizens in-between.



It means connecting the dots rather than being fed the explanations.  It means playing the role of one of Team Blue Rose, parsing through what scant evidence is at our disposal to understand the actions and vast powers of those on a level of existence far beyond our own.  This is a story where Killer BOB isn’t beaten by the main character, the one we all thought would stand triumphant, but rather a seemingly minor pawn.  Where reunions are short-changed by the driving need to change the course of time itself and enter the “dream” of a monster.


It's never stated outright, but the implication is there.  The Fireman created Laura as a means to counter Killer BOB, and in the larger sense, thwart The Mother’s further entry into our world.  However it was contrived by these higher powers of good and evil, Laura became the child of The Mother (who possessed Sarah) and Killer BOB (who possessed Leland).  Saving and protecting Laura as the hope to curb that evil has been the center of the story all along.  And if there is a metaphor within the story of Twin Peaks, it might be the dark realization that once that evil was unleashed into “our world” so fully, it’s almost impossible to defeat.  It’s the lesson that Cooper learns when he enters the “dream” of The Mother (or so it appears).



The Fireman’s plan, as communicated to Cooper before he is aided out of the Black Lodge, is to use Cooper as the catalyst to remove Killer BOB and The Mother from earthly influence (“two birds with one stone”).  Oddly enough, the implication is that The Fireman himself might be the “dreamer” of the reality that we’ve come to know on the show; his ability to manipulate “our world” is greater, it seems, than other entities.  Thus one might see his interventions as attempting to rid his dream of the invading darkness of his rivals.  It’s certainly no more bizarre than the myths of godlike beings in any other pantheon!


Laura is the catalyst, Cooper the instrument.  Cooper initially tries to save Laura as the most expedient means of countering The Mother; if Laura lives, everything changes.  And in fact, while Cooper doesn’t save Laura per se, his actions do mean her death is prevented.  A new timeline is created, a new story begins.  But Laura is taken away on the threshold of the Lodges, and Cooper must find her to attempt to save her and strike at The Mother anew.



The mutable nature of the world in which Cooper and Diane cross suggests it is another “dream”.  Things are indeed different.  Diane/Linda is too haunted by her memories of Dark Cooper’s assault to remain with Cooper/Richard.  The motel and car that Cooper drives changes overnight.  Laura is buried within the persona of Carrie Page.  The Palmer house in Twin Peaks appears to belong to someone else.  By the time Cooper realizes how little control and understanding he has of his situation, we learn that the house is controlled by incarnations of Black Lodge denizens (the Tremonds, the Chalfonts), and Laura “wakes up” and screams at the sound of Sarah, The Mother, hauntingly calling her name.


Could it simply be David Lynch striking at the heart of those who wanted a resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of the second season, by delivering an equally harsh unresolved ending to the third?  Is it hedging a bet that a fourth season or follow-up film might come in the future?  Considering that this was always billed as the final statement, I doubt there was much more intended than the realization by Cooper that his efforts were futile.  Laura can never be saved, the evil unleashed by humanity can never be returned to Pandora’s Box.  At best, it can be contained.



And what of the rest of the world and characters we’ve come to know?  Two timelines exist in some form.  In one, Laura Palmer was killed, Team Blue Rose investigated, and Cooper once again disappeared (this time with Diane) in the quest to stop Judy.  Judy remains inside Sarah Palmer, and within her dream, Cooper and Laura are trapped in their own cycle.  In the second timeline, Laura lived but disappeared.  How that changes things, we will likely never know.


Many resolutions are left to suggestion.  It was implied that Becky was killed by Stephen in an earlier episode; I suppose we must assume that was the case.  If Diane was transformed into Naido after her experience of being sexually assaulted by Dark Cooper, then it’s not hard to imagine that Audrey was similarly affected by her assault during her coma; everything points to her being at the mercy of one of the Lodges.  Despite the timeline questions it might raise, the girl who was infested by the insect form of Judy was either Sarah Palmer or simply Judy’s former host.  Regardless, there are answers, even if they are not necessarily complete ones.



And so it is hard to say if the end of Twin Peaks could be termed satisfying.  We are left with effectively the same sense of existential threat that we had at the end of the second season or after Fire Walk With Me, but now we have a much broader view of the universe and mythology within which it resides.  Those seeking a straightforward resolution to the whole saga probably had unrealistic expectations; instead, we received an “ending” that is very much in keeping with the more recent output of David Lynch and his storytelling tropes.


In the end, I believe that Lynch wanted to play in his favorite sandbox again, but also wanted to preserve the true legacy of Twin Peaks: not the nostalgia for a quirky series that was never the reflection of its own reputation, not the stagnation of seeing the same characters in the same familiar situations, not even the satisfaction of a clear and concise plot resolution, but rather fresh fuel for the theorizing fire that has consumed fans for more than 25 years.  It doesn’t matter what year it is; Twin Peaks remains the enigma that it has always been.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • We got the story that David Lynch wanted to tell
  • It was great to see Cooper acting like Cooper for a while
  • Julee Cruise!
The Bad:
  • That ending is frustrating to anyone seeking full closure, to say the least

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Twin Peaks by - 9/6/2017 9:23 AM198 views

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